Consumers want more for le$$

Even as Americans fork out more cash for upscale forms of caffeine and alcohol, there’s one thing they increasingly want in bulk, for cheap: marijuana.

In Tilray’s fourth-quarter call last week, Chief Executive Officer Irwin Simon said that Covid-19 prompted more people to shop for marijuana online, and that worked against premium brands. That contrasts with the “premiumization” trend of consumers trading up to higher-priced products that companies including Molson Coors and Starbucks talked about in earnings calls last week.

Tilray isn’t the only one noticing: A Stifel survey of almost 500 marijuana users across the U.S. and Canada came to the same conclusion.

Gotta save on household expenses, somehow, eh?

Chip shortage excuse is getting old

Whether sales are rising or falling, automakers from the U.S. to China have found a catchall explanation: the global chip shortage. For the laggards, the excuse is getting old.

In the U.S., a shortfall of semiconductors has forced manufacturers to shift from making more cars to better ones. These vehicles are selling at a swift pace and have boosted margins. Sales are rising, too, albeit showing signs of slowing as inventories run low. Volkswagen AG reported its best first-half performance in the U.S. in almost half a century, while at General Motors Co., the figure increased by almost 40% over the same period…

The divergence in performance shows that some companies were able to rise to the challenges of the pandemic by remaining nimble and managing production effectively — traits that will become even more critical amid the transition to electric vehicles. Their competitors, still blaming crimped performance on the shortage, should be worried…

It’s hard to say when the chip shortage will abate. One thing is clear: The companies further along in readjusting to post-Covid life are likely to be the ones that can navigate the twists and turns on the road to next-generation cars. Those still blaming chips will likely be doing so for a while.

RTFA. Interesting to see who’s nimble, quick at switching available chips to models in greatest demand – or the manufacturers want to grow in market share.

1972 MIT study on target for potential 21st century economic collapse


This Blue Marble in the Milky Way has finite resources

According to a new peer-reviewed scientific report, industrial civilisation is likely to deplete its low-cost mineral resources within the next century, with debilitating impacts for the global economy and key infrastructures within the coming decade.

The study, the 33rd report to the Club of Rome, is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence’s Earth Sciences Department, and includes contributions from a wide range of senior scientists across relevant disciplines.

Its first report in 1972, The Limits to Growth, was conducted by a scientific team at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), and warned that limited availability of natural resources relative to rising costs would undermine continued economic growth by around the second decade of the 21st century…

Although widely ridiculed, recent scientific reviews confirm that the original report’s projections in its ‘base scenario’ remain robust. In 2008, Australia’s federal government scientific research agency CSIRO concluded that The Limits to Growth forecast of potential “global ecological and economic collapse coming up in the middle of the 21st Century” due to convergence of “peak oil, climate change, and food and water security”, is “on-track.” Actual current trends in these areas “resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the book’s ‘business-as-usual scenario.'”

RTFA for more depth to this confirmation. There are multiple sources, newer, more advanced methods available. Not exactly cheerful news from modern economics.

Thanks, Ray Koenig

Afghanistan can’t wait for the U.S. to get out of the way — to let in China and Pakistan

As the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Beijing is preparing to swoop into the war-torn country and fill the vacuum left by the departed U.S. and NATO troops.

China is poised to make an exclusive entry into post-U.S. Afghanistan with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to government officials in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast that Kabul authorities are growing more intensively engaged with China on an extension of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the flagship project of BRI, which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China — to Afghanistan…

In other words: The Afghan government, behind the scenes, is welcoming China immediately after saying goodbye to America.

Yup. All part of an obviously subversive plot. Here’s Uncle Sugar finishing decades of superb foreign policy – stationing tens of thousands of American troops in yet one more small nation to show off the benefits of American democracy [and military hardware]. We’re going out the door. Meanwhile, the “subversive” Chinese and their Pakistani allies in the Belt-and-Road Initiative are actually going to build highways, railways and energy pipelines – making the country a key link in East/West infrastructure. And profits.

How sly.

Ireland will be reunited

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — It was meant to be a year of celebration.

But Northern Ireland, created in 1921 when Britain carved six counties out of Ireland’s northeast, is not enjoying its centenary. Its most ardent upholders, the unionists who believe that the place they call “our wee country” is and must forever remain an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom, are in utter disarray. Their largest party has ousted two leaders within a matter of weeks, while an angry minority has taken to the streets waving flags and threatening violence. And the British government, in resolving Brexit, placed a new border in the Irish Sea.

The writing is on the wall. While the process by which Ireland could become unified is complicated and fraught, one thing seems certain: There isn’t going to be a second centenary for Northern Ireland. It might not even last another decade.

One can only hope. And hope it is for a peaceful transition. Sith gun robh so!

Going back to the office? People are quitting instead!

More U.S. workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least two decades, signaling optimism among many professionals while also adding to the struggle companies face trying to keep up with the economic recovery…

The wave of resignations marks a sharp turn from the darkest days of the pandemic, when workers craved job security while weathering a national health and economic crisis. In April, the share of U.S. workers leaving jobs was 2.7%, according to the Labor Department, a jump from 1.6% a year earlier to the highest level since at least 2000.

The shift by workers into new jobs and careers is prompting employers to raise wages and offer promotions to keep hold of talent. The appetite for change by employees indicates many professionals are feeling confident about jumping ship for better prospects, despite elevated unemployment rates.

Several factors are driving the job turnover. Many people are spurning a return to business as usual, preferring the flexibility of remote work or reluctant to be in an office before the virus is vanquished. Others are burned out from extra pandemic workloads and stress, while some are looking for higher pay to make up for a spouse’s job loss or used the past year to reconsider their career path and shift gears.

Altogether, human-resource executives and labor experts see a wave of resignations. In a March survey of 2,000 workers by Prudential Financial Inc., one-quarter said they plan to soon look for a role with a different employer.

Been there, done that. That individual act ain’t exactly what’s happening, though. Not when this is described as a wave. Folks have known for a long time how to go about quitting a job, getting something better. Do they just feel better able to do it, right now, having made it past the pandemic?

American Politics = 4-Way Split

To understand America, you must first assemble the pieces. In the latest issue of Atlantic magazine…George Packer argues that the country has fragmented into four groups, each informed by a distinct narrative about the nation’s moral identity. These narratives “overlap, morph into one another, attract and repel one another.”

The groups are:

1. Free America

Libertarians who resent regulation in favor of individual freedom, tracing a through line from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz

2. Smart America

A class of high earners and technocrats who attend competitive schools, embrace meritocracy, own MacBooks, and don’t intermingle with the rest of the country

3. Real America

White Christian nationalists, as recently energized by Sarah Palin and Donald Trump

4. Just America

A young generation that believes injustice is at the heart of the country’s problems and speaks the language of identity politics

All four narratives, Packer argues, “emerged from America’s failure to sustain and enlarge the middle-class democracy of the postwar years”—and all four are helping pull the country apart.

RTFA. Decide if George Packer earned his analyst paycheck, this week. Then, figure out how and if this mess can be tidied up into something productive.